Clean, healthy and abundant seas by 2020. This is what European countries are committed to achieve when they adopted the Marine Strategy Framework Directive in 2008. This is what over 180,000 Europeans are asking you to deliver.  With little more than a year until the deadline, all countries of the European Union, including Greece,  are failing their legal obligation to ‘take all necessary measures to achieve Good Environmental Status of EU seas by 2020’.

35 European environmental organizations, under the coordination of the Seas at Risk, joined forces in order to urge E.U. ministers to meet their commitments according to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive at the European Council of Environment Ministers, which takes place today on the 20th December 2018. By taking these 20 measures now, they can still fulfill the promise made to E.U. citizens in 2008.

Twenty measures for clean and healthy seas by 2020

  1. Implement the high standards of the Water Framework Directive to bring our rivers, lakes, wetlands, floodplains, groundwater and coastal waters to good ecological and chemical status as the main pre-condition for clean and healthy seas.
  2. Designate a sufficient number of protected sites in the marine environment to ensure that the EU’s remarkable and vulnerable marine wildlife is preserved, in line with the requirements of the Birds and Habitats Directives and the objectives of the Marine Directive.
  3. Offer true protection to Marine Protected Areas by systematically banning all high-impact activities, such as bottom trawling, oil and gas exploitation and mining exploration, and authorising other activities in or near protected areas only after an assessment has proven that they will not impact the protected wildlife, individually and cumulatively.

4.Dedicate at least 25% of the national budget from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to marine nature protection, including proper management of Marine Protected Areas, put in place marine pollution prevention measures, and conduct adequate baseline and impact monitoring and research activities in the marine environment.

5,Establish a fully-financed national programme to implement, and monitor the effectiveness of, state-of-the-art measures to minimise and eliminate incidental catch by fish vessels of seabirds, marine mammals, sea turtles, endangered species of sharks, rays and deep-sea fish and enforce by-catch reduction through increased monitoring at sea with remote electronic monitoring or more on-board observers for high-risk vessels.

6.Set annual fishing limits below the maximum sustainable yield exploitation rate for stocks with sufficient scientific data, and below the precautionary approach reference point for stocks with limited data, at the appropriate European Agriculture and Fisheries Councils in 2018 and 2019 to have all commercially exploited fish and shellfish populations restored above sustainable levels by 2020.

7. Speed-up the transition to more sustainable fishing practices by allocating more fishing opportunities to fleets with lower environmental impacts, in line with Article 17 of the Common Fisheries Policy.


8.Establish trawl-free areas along all coastal zones to protect the most productive part of our seas and create a coherent network of fish stock recovery areas for essential fish habitats, in line with Article 8 of the Common Fisheries Policy, with a focus on overfished commercial stocks.

9.Reform the Common Agricultural Policy to shift financial support from polluting livestock operations and intensive farming causing run-off to sustainable agricultural practices and restoration of watersheds.

10.Require that all farms put in place a ‘nutrient management plan’ (including nutrient soil-mapping and bookkeeping) and adequate Ecological Focus Areas and buffers along all water courses as pre-conditions for allocating subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy.

11. Ensure that funding for aquaculture is directed at activities that do not damage the marine environment, and actively support measures that reduce the environmental footprint of aquaculture farms, that promote aquaculture providing environmental services or that facilitate conversion to eco-management.


12.Ensure the proper implementation and enforcement of the REACH Regulation and other chemical related laws, in particular the swift identification, restriction and substitution of substances of very high concern, including endocrine disruptors and persistent toxic and bioaccumulative substances, in industrial processes and products.

13.Implement the Minamata Convention on Mercury by applying relevant restrictions and bans to major sources of mercury emissions, including Large-Combustion Plants, and banning the use of mercury in dentistry.

14. Require all emergency plans for oil spills to include a sensitivity mapping of ecosystem components to ensure the least impact on marine wildlife at the time of a crisis and brief port authorities on the appropriate response to such crises.


15.Put in place a National Plan to implement the EU Plastics Strategy, including national targets to reduce plastic consumption, and data collection on the placing on the market and consumption of single-use plastics.

16.Set up mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility schemes for the entire supply chain for single-use plastic and fishing gear.

17.Commit to progressively eliminate sources of microplastic pollution, taking early steps to end plastic pellet loss and support the restriction of microplastic ingredients under REACH.

18.Impose ship speed reductions to reduce noise pollution, strikes with cetaceans and greenhouse gas emissions and start the process of developing binding rules for the quieting of ships, based on existing guidelines of the International Maritime Organization.

19.Mandate the development and use of quieter technological alternatives and best available technologies for pile driving (e.g. BLUE piling) and seismic surveying (e.g. marine vibroseis).

20. Require robust, comprehensive and transparent Environmental Impact Assessments for all noise-generating activities at sea, drawing on the already adopted guidelines of the Convention on Migratory Species.